‘Adua and Her Friends’ on The Criterion Channel

Adua and Her Friends (Italy, 1960) are prostitutes from a Rome brothel attempting to take charge of their own lives after their place is shut down in the aftermath of Italy’s Merlin Law, which ended legalized prostitution in 1958. Adua (Simone Signoret), a veteran of the life, has a plan to open a restaurant as […]

Dave Johns stars in the Cannes Film Festival award-winning film from Ken Loach

Ken Loach’s ‘I, Daniel Blake’ on Netflix

Ken Loach won the Palm d’Or at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival for I, Daniel Blake (2016), a classic Loach social commentary taking on the struggles of the working classes and underclasses let down by society. This one, about a 59-year-old carpenter and widower in Newcastle recovering from a heart attack while fighting for assistance, […]

Oscar-winning ‘The Lives of Others’ on Netflix

Is there anything more dangerous than a true believer who approaches his mission with unshakable certainty and unwavering dogma? Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck’s The Lives of Others (Germany, 2006) follows the odyssey of a staunchly patriotic Stasi agent (a brilliant Ulrich Mühe), the secret police of the GDR (Communist East Germany), and his surveillance of […]

Meryl Streep and Philip Seymour Hoffman cast ‘Doubt’ on Netflix

Take the title at face value: Doubt (2008), directed and adapted for the screen by playwright John Patrick Shanley, does not offer answers. Rather, it challenges us to understand our own instincts to believe in the absence of proof. Sunny, optimistic idealist Sister James (Amy Adams), a young nun teaching history to junior high boys […]

‘Easy Rider’ – On the road to find America on Hulu

Peter Fonda was already a counterculture icon when he suited up in black leather and a star-spangled helmet, mounted a Harley-Davidson chopper, tossed his watch to the desert floor, and drove off with a shaggy Dennis Hopper in search of America. The film was Easy Rider (1969), an independent film produced by Fonda, directed by Hopper, […]

‘The King’ – An Elvis road trip through the American Dream on Amazon Prime Video

Elvis Presley is ostensibly the subject of The King (2018), Eugene Jarecki’s rambling road movie of a documentary. The award-winning director drives Presley’s 1963 Rolls-Royce across the US, from Mississippi and Memphis to Nashville, New York, Las Vegas, Hollywood, and elsewhere, talking to historians, musicians, members of Presley’s inner circle, and everyday Americans. Elvis centers […]

‘Pan’s Labyrinth’ – Guillermo del Toro’s dark fairy tale on Netflix

Pan’s Labyrinth (Spain, 2006), Guillermo del Toro’s dark fairy tale, is an elemental Alice in Wonderland amidst the horrors of Francisco Franco’s reign of terror in 1944 Spain. Our Alice is an imaginative young girl named Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) who escapes into an elemental wonderland after she moves into the country estate with her ailing […]

Rachel McAdams, Michael Keaton, Mark Ruffalo, Liev Schreiber, and Brian d'Arcy James in 'Spotlight,' directed by Tom McCarthy.

Oscar-winning ‘Spotlight’ on Showtime

Winner of the Academy Awards for Best Best Picture and Best Original Screenplay, as well as Best Ensemble Cast by the Screen Actors Guild, Best Screenplay by the Writer’s Guild of America, Best Picture by the American Film Institute, and scores of other awards from professional and critics organizations, Spotlight (2015) is the kind of film that […]

Poignant drama ‘Any Day Now’ on Amazon Prime Video

Any Day Now (2012) is the kind of American drama that Hollywood used to specialize in: character based, issue-focused, emotionally-grounded, and an actor’s showcase. It’s 1979 and two gay men–Alan Cumming as a flamboyant female impersonator and Garret Dillahunt as a newly-out and still uncomfortable gay man working for a conservative legal firm–take on the […]

Nicolas Cage in Andrew Niccol's 'Lord of War'

Nicolas Cage is the ‘Lord of War’ on Amazon Prime Video and Hulu

“There are over 550 million firearms in worldwide circulation. That’s one firearm for every twelve people on the planet. The only question is: How do we arm the other 11?” The opening line of Andrew Niccol’s Lord of War (2005) captures the film in a phrase: it’s serious, it’s sardonic, and it has both a […]